Carlos Boozer has received plenty of criticism since he signed with the Chicago Bulls as a free agent in the summer of 2010, and this past season was certainly no different. But, despite all of that, Boozer was able to maintain his starting position even with Taj Gibson’s dominance.
Pre All-Star Break
Boozer did his best work prior to All-Star weekend. During that time, he appeared in 46 games and and started all of them. The six games Boozer missed during this time period were a result of either a sore right knee or injuries to his left calf.
The veteran power forward averaged 29.9 minutes a game with 14.9 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists. Along with that, he also shot 45.4 percent from the field and 77.0 percent on free throws. However, as the season went on, most of Boozer’s work was done in the first and third quarters; the second quarter was a resting period for Boozer while the fourth quarter was typically assigned to Taj Gibson, so Gibson could close out games instead.
Head coach Tom Thibodeau’s preference for Gibson as a closer then led to Boozer speaking out against it in early February.
I think I should be out there, but it’s (Thibodeau’s) choice.
I play. I don’t coach. But honestly, he’s been doing that a lot since I’ve been here, not putting me in in the fourth quarter. Sometimes we win, more times than not we don’t.”
Unfortunately for Boozer, his opinion didn’t change Thibodeau’s mind, and Gibson remained the closer.
Post All-Star Break
Playing two quarters became even more of a standard for Boozer, as he averaged 25.6 minutes per game over the course of the 30 remaining regular season games. As a result, his scoring average took a bit of a hit decreasing to 12.1 points per game; however, his field goal percentage nearly remained the same, increasing only a bit to 46.1 percent.
Really, the small decrease in minutes didn’t affect Boozer’s production much. The difference in his scoring average was the biggest change, as his averages for rebounds and assists decreased slightly to 7.8 and 1.5, respectively. His free throw shooting also worsened to 75.9 percent.
Boozer’s role remained the same in the playoffs as well: start the game, play coming out of halftime, but stay on the bench when it’s closing time.
He played and started all five games and averaged 24.2 minutes, His shooting percentage fell further to 42.6 percent, but he was able to better his free throw percentage to 88.9 percent; however, it is worth mentioning that the sample size for his free throws in the postseason is significantly smaller than that of the pre and post All-Star break periods.
To open the season, Boozer started off very strongly by putting up a season-high 31 points in a 107-95 loss to the Miami Heat on Oct. 29. He shot his second best percentage of the season, 72.2 percent off of 13-for-18 from the field, and went 5-for-5 at the charity stripe.
Boozer had his fair share of poor shooting nights, but the one he had in the Bulls’ 102-87 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on April 9 was certainly one of, if not, the worst ones. He went 3-for-13 from the field in 23:54 to score only six points, one of his lowest scoring games. Along with that, Boozer also only grabbed four boards, had four turnovers, and committed five fouls.
For the regular season as a whole, Boozer played 76 of 82 games and contributed a total of 1,042 points, 632 rebounds, 118 assists, 53 steals and 22 blocks. He was second on the team with 25 double-doubles and finished 13th amongst all power forwards. In terms of the league as a whole, Boozer placed 28th.
He remained a reliable offensive presence, but even that wasn’t all that great. His regular season averages of 13.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists are the worst numbers he’s put up since he came to Chicago. It’s possible this could be attributed to the decrease in playing time, as his 28.2 minutes per game is the second lowest of his career, but, when examining his field goal percentage, it doesn’t help his case. Boozer shot 45.7 percent during the regular season, and it’s the worst he has ever shot in his 12-year career.
As for Boozer’s defense, it didn’t get any better. In fact, it became so much of a problem that he lost his fourth-quarter playing time. It was his defense, partially, that kept him from closing games, and on a team run by Thibodeau, that’s not going to cut it.
This past season also may have very well been Boozer’s final season in Chicago with the possibility of being amnestied later this offseason. Our editor Ronald Agers even brought back the Legion of Booz to speak about such a possibility earlier this week. Whether or not Boozer will definitely be amnestied is yet to be known, but, either way, he’ll have to improve upon on his lowlight of a season.
Final Grade: C